First trip to the Great Underground Empire
This little game is a must play if you are a fan of the classic text adventure Zork. It's actually the forerunner to this gaming legend that was designed by a bunch of geeks at MIT who played the treasure hunting text game ADVENTURE and thought they could do better. Much of what would later become crystallized in Zork was laid down in this version and it makes for a fascinating excursion into history. The setting is the same as the later Zork games, with players exploring the vast Underground Empire while solving some really bizarre puzzles and uncovering the history behind this fantastic realm as they go. You have to worry about things like your lantern running out while in the middle of a dungeon, which adds a nice element to proceedings, while the whole thing is told with a pleasing lack of seriousness which makes it all the more enjoyable. The game is played via an early form of what would become Infocom's trademark and highly intelligent parser system, but even at this early stage, it's surprisingly clever and capable of understanding quite complex commands. As both a historical artifact and a game in its own right, this is compelling stuff. For fans of interactive fiction, like The Pawn and Guild of Thieves, it's a must play, thanks to its engrossing storyline, well written descriptions and characters, superbly developed game world and fascinating puzzles. Speaking of which, these might seem slightly illogical to some, but they are rarely less than clever and engaging and which are perhaps the highlight of the game. Definitely recommended.